#Project-2023: The writings on the wall
#Project-2023: The writings on the wall
By Martins Oloja
#Project-2023: The writings on the wall
Nigeria flag
They are on the march again. It is their season. They have organised their war chest for the #Warfare-2023. They are running around again without reading the ominous writings on the wall.
They have abandoned governance again. Though they have shirked their covenant with us – to provide security and welfare, they are confident of victory. They have never been afraid of the people. The people have always been afraid of them. They don’t care a hoot about the state of the nation dancing unsteadily on the brink. They don’t care again about the state of the economy. They do nothing about mass transit system. They don’t construct good roads: they fly over our bad roads. They hardly read the conclusions of the foreign reserve risk analysts. They don’t know the PMS pump price. They don’t read any pointers to the periods of consequences. They are our bugbears.

They don’t care about the state of our children’s classrooms. They care only about school religious uniforms to distinguish their daughters without a future. They don’t care about the quality of the teachers of our children in the shacks they call classrooms. They don’t care about those they deride as university professors. Those public university dons can go on strike for the periods of their tenure. They don’t care as long as the universities in the West are not on strike – for their children. They don’t care. Yes, they are on the march again. They are designing another change mantra, another stratagem. They are relocating from APC to PDP and from PDP to APC. After all, they are the two sides of the same coin. They are identical twins. They are planning again. They know they don’t have a nation.

They know how to use the fault lines, yes religion and ethnicity to achieve their fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy. They know where they want to be in 2023. They sold to us so many dummies in 2015. They told us about a man of integrity coming to the seat of power in Abuja. They were quite resourceful in 2015. They are always artful dodgers. They sold to us a man they claimed his body language alone could provide electricity megawatts. They advertised to us a man full of spirituality that could fight the public enemy number one called corruption that the previous administration institutionalised. They told us we should stone them if after two years, we couldn’t notice change from the many promises they made. For the past six years, they have changed the change they promised. They know we the people don’t have capacity to hold them to account. They are not remorseful. They know we are always hungry. They are aware we will always celebrate their mediocrity.

They know us for our penchant for low expectations. They know we will always cry for just crumbs from their tables. They know only a few pressmen will ask questions. They are not oblivious of the reality we can’t change: that they can buy prime time in the electronic media. They know they can control citizen journalism to manipulate perception indices. They know about the ancient word in this clime that ‘money answereth’ all election petition things. They know that the people hardly decide who eventually get elected in election years. They know judicial panels are more important than the ballots of the people. They know the quality of their country’s institutions of governance. They know this is Nigeria, a country of anything-is-possible for those who know the fixers. They are aware that the law hardly rules here. This is where man rules more than the law. They know too well that even professors of law here will advise them to remove the Chief Justice of the country without any recourse to the constitution. They know it is possible for the high courts to dethrone a winner and install even the fourth runner-up in an election. Yes, Nigerian politicians are on the march again for 2023. 

One of their seniors, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, a tinker of June 12, 1993 election debacle warned them in a November 1, 2015 article. He told the lanky man of integrity that he had limited time for the change he promised. 

Kingibe who began adult life as a journalist cleared his baritone voice, looked into the seed of time and asked them to communicate their policies for change, clearly should they expect any impactful change. The running-mate to the late MKO Abiola during the infamous June 12, 1993 presidential election had then in a widely published epistle advised the new president then Muhammadu Buhari, to communicate very clearly – to Nigerians and the world at large, his administration’s core principles, strategies, policies, plans and programmes for change, noting that he had limited time to bring the needed change in Nigeria. Kingibe, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Greece and the country’s representative in Pakistan, said then that though Nigerians were patient with the president because of the goodwill and respect he commanded, they could also get agitated if their expectations were not met at a given period of time. Kingibe also told the Nigerian leader then that to fight corruption successfully, there was the need for the APC-led federal government to deal with the past fairly and firmly, using the principles of the rule of law.

The former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) said: “The task is more urgent because there is only but a limited time before impatience on the part of the public blends with resistance from vested interests and dilutes the national consciousness for change.” He had added then: “Fortunately, goodwill for the person of President Buhari is considerable, and people are willing to give him time to reset the country.’’ Kingibe noted too that the federal government must make its policies clear, pointing out that Nigerians could not afford to be kept in the dark in this computer age.

According to him, President Buhari should be prepared for resistance from some quarters, especially those who would be affected by his policies for change. He also said: “Looking ahead, to sustain change and overcome resistance, government must communicate very clearly – to Nigerians and the world at large – their core principles, strategies, policies, plans and programmes for change. “We live today in a world of the 24-hour news cycle: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and all the other real communication tools of the Internet age. No leader or government can afford to lag behind their detractors in the competition for public support.’’ Kingibe further said there could not be any meaningful change without an aggressive reform in the public service, adding that government has a duty to instill positive change in the attitude of public servants. “For the change we seek to be more than a mere slogan, it must also temper official attitudes in the public service. It is necessary to reform all arms of government and their institutions. “The simple truth is that despite the leadership and vision of the president, and regardless of the merits and commitment of every member of his team, without change in the attitude of the public service, good intentions will not produce change.’’ 

There have been many other suggestions on the intricacies of managing change including some on this page that the Buhari administration has ignored in the last six years that the locusts have eaten on his watch. I only extracted the Kingibe prescriptions because the politician Kingibe too has been classified as part of a cabal that has been ‘accused’ of influencing presidential actions since 2015. It is curious too that they ignored his strategy paper. 

Again, another influential and very educated public officer from the north who has seen it all and at the moment a spokesperson of the Elders’ Forum in the same north, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed has been consistently warning politicians again about their unethical politicking. The retired federal Permanent Secretary and former Secretary of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was recently on a satellite television where he sent a clear message to politicians about 2023 and the ‘politricks’ they have begun without caring a hoot about the most urgent task before them: tackling insecurity and disunity that their mismanagement has caused. 

Specifically, the Director of Publicity and Advocacy of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), said the various challenges facing Nigeria must be fixed before the nation could hold a general election in 2023, warning that except that is done, the country would become weak and vulnerable to internal strife.

Speaking on a breakfast programme of a television station, Dr. Baba-Ahmed, who once interviewed President Nelson Madela in South Africa as a Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ministry said there is an urgent need for a genuine conversation around the country’s challenges as well as how to resolve them to reduce the threats to the 2023 general election. 

His words: “We need to meet to address our collective challenges like the decentralisation of power before we get to the 2023 general election,” he told Arise News, explaining: “If our challenges are not addressed before the 2023 elections, we will definitely have a weak country struggling to address monumental challenges.” The interview Baba-Ahmed conducted with the iconic Mandela gave us these words on marble: ‘The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence….’

I believe the retired public officer and columnist, when he said the 2023 election has become a distraction as politicians have been focusing on it rather than tackle the crises of insecurity and the rising quest for the decentralisation of power among other demands for the review of the subsisting power relations in the country.

The truth about what the intellectual from Buhari’s tribe is saying is that 2023 is no doubt instrumental to our challenges because politicians are already planning for 2023 elections without first considering the expediency of fixing the security challenges that have become ticklish to the Buhari administration.

So, those who would like to see change in Nigeria should read the 2015 prescriptions of Kingibe the leaders ignored and also note what elder Baba-Ahmed is saying now: that politicians in power and government are resisting the political demands for a review of the prevailing structure. Those who have chosen to use only social media platforms as their campaign tools for change should also note that no president or politician would agree to restructure the country and whittle down the powers of the presidency and the National Assembly members, which represent a threat to the country at the moment.

Don’t get it twisted, Nigeria is still dancing on the brink, as John Campbell, a former U.S envoy to Nigeria has observed in a book. And so in deconstructing the post-Buhari world in Nigeria, we need to tell politicians boldly that they require three Rs, for survival of this country: Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Restructuring, lest we will be the last again from May 30, 2023.

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